Sunday, January 25, 2015

In the belly of the Whale

Tales of fearsome and deadly whales abound in literature. The white whale of Melville's novel Moby Dick was inspired in part by accounts of the albino sperm whale Mocha Dick, who earned a reputation for fighting back against whaling vessels that tried to attack him.

However, I doubt that the typical modern gamer views the whale as something they would fight in an encounter even though general stats for whales were included in published D&D material.

For my part, whale miniatures (or toys rather) are interesting for purposes of visualizing relative size.

The most commonly encountered toys are those produced by Safari Ltd. The toys are made of solid PVC, and are fairly heavy. The three that I own include a sperm whale, humpback whale, and killer whale.

The sperm whale is about 8" long, which scales out to 48' in length, and can represent a juvenile male, or a large adult female.

The humpback whale is about 7" long, which scales out to about 42' in length, which is about mid-range for this type of whale.

The killer whale is actually a calf, but it can pass for a small female in 1/72 scale.

The other toy whales that I own are made by Larami Corp. These toys are made of vinyl, and are hollow with a very obvious weld line along the midsection of the whale.

These toys are all fairly close to 1/72 scale. I'm not sure how many other whales are in this set, but there is at least a fin whale, which I do not own.

The blue whale is 13½" long, which scales out to 81' in length, and is on the far low end of size for adult males.

What I really would like to find is a model representing a large adult female (closer to 100' in length), but have had no luck so far.

The sperm whale is about 11" long, which scales out to 66' in length, which is the size of a fairly large male.

If I had another one of these, I'd probably paint it white, but since these Larami whales don't seem to be too common, I hesitate to do any modification of them.

The bowhead whale is 10⅜" long, which scales out to 62¼' in length, representing a specimen toward the upper range in size.

The humpback whale is 9¼" long, scaling out to 55½' in length, which is somewhat over the maximum recorded length for this type of whale.

The gray whale is 8¼" long, scaling out to 49½' in length, which is the maximum recorded length for this type of whale.

Size comparison shots of the various whales.

Larami whales

Larami and Safari Ltd. whales

Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!


Kitchen Wolf said...

When I was a kid, there were very few close up pictures of live whales. These look a lot like they were sculpted from books of that era. But they don't look a lot like Gray whales:

Or blue whales, either:

EY said...

Hi K. Wolf,

I wouldn't be surprised if the sculpts were based on books as you said.

I don't know when these whales were made, but I would guess that it was during the 70s before Larami started getting heavily into producing rack toys from various TV and movie sci-fi franchises.

Arnaud G said...

I'm a 1/72 french modeller. Can you add, if you want of course, my blog in your list please ?
many thanks.

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

If it was for a scenario of some kind would it be useful to have a model/toy whale that could be cut up? You could then have a waterline of the back breaking the surface, another of the tail upright and one of the head and jaws itself say, making an attack.

EY said...


That sounds like something that the manufacturers of those "4D" puzzles could look into.

I think I have seen people cut up PVC toys to do what you have suggested though. Not sure that hollow ones would work well, but the solid ones should.

Kadmon said...

This puzzle idea is good, I don't know however how would the miniature look like if it were puzzled together...
I'd also like to see what kind of scenarios would you think up that could use a whale?

EY said...

Hi Kadmon,

Frankly, outside of the whole Ahab/Moby Dick or Free Willy type scenarios, I'm drawing a blank on possible scenarios involving normal whales...

Mythical whales like Aspidochelone, or ghost whales like the bake-kujira would be a lot more interesting.